From Alaskan mountain peaks to the Argentinian
pampas to the rocky shores of Newfoundland, Native Americans were
the first to carve out cities, domesticate crops, and establish
great civilizations. When the Framers gathered to write the United
States Constitution, they drew inspiration from the Iroquois Confederacy,
and in the centuries since, American Indians and Alaska Natives
from hundreds of tribes have shaped our national life. During Native
American Heritage Month, we honor their vibrant cultures and strengthen
the government-to-government relationship between the United States
and each tribal nation.
As we observe this month, we must not
ignore the painful history Native Americans have endured -- a history
of violence, marginalization, broken promises, and upended justice.
There was a time when native languages and religions were banned
as part of a forced assimilation policy that attacked the political,
social, and cultural identities of Native Americans in the United
States. Through generations of struggle, American Indians and Alaska
Natives held fast to their traditions, and eventually the United
States Government repudiated its destructive policies and began
to turn the page on a troubled past.
My Administration remains committed to
self-determination, the right of tribal governments to build and
strengthen their own communities. Each year I host the White House
Tribal Nations Conference, and our work together has translated
into action. We have resolved longstanding legal disputes, prioritized
placing land into trust on behalf of tribes, stepped up support
for Tribal Colleges and Universities, made tribal health care more
accessible, and streamlined leasing regulations to put more power
in tribal hands. Earlier this year, an amendment to the Stafford
Act gave tribes the option to directly request Federal emergency
assistance when natural disasters strike their homelands. In March,
I signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which recognizes
tribal courts' power to convict and sentence certain perpetrators
of domestic violence, regardless of whether they are Indian or non-Indian.
And this June, I moved to strengthen our nation-to-nation relationships
by establishing the White House Tribal Council on Native American
Affairs. The Council is responsible for promoting and sustaining
prosperous and resilient Native American communities.
As we observe Native American Heritage
Month, we must build on this work. Let us shape a future worthy
of a bright new generation, and together, let us ensure this country's
promise is fully realized for every Native American.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President
of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested
in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do
hereby proclaim November 2013 as National Native American Heritage
Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with
appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 29,
2013, as Native American Heritage Day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set
my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord
two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States
of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.